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What are Cluster B Personality Disorders?

Personality disorders are characterized by long-term patterns of behavior that interfere with everyday life. These disorders can impact a person’s jobs, relationships, and friendships, as they manifest in very rigid and irrational behaviors that may cause problems with other people. Personality disorders are broken into three clusters. Cluster B is characterized as the dramatic, erratic, and emotional disorders.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

This disorder is characterized by an inflated sense of self-worth and ego. People diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder often feel entitled, and demand to have preferential treatment and attention bestowed upon them. They may act as if they are more important than others, and some times believe that they have special powers or abilities that make them superior to those around them. These individuals tend to lack empathy, and may try to exploit others to suit their own needs.

Histrionic Personality Disorder

This disorder is characterized by extreme emotionality and attention seeking. While someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder may demand attention because they believe that they are special, a person with Histrionic Personality Disorder seeks out attention because it is uncomfortable for them to not be the center of attention. These individuals will often go to any length to draw attention to themselves. They may rapidly shift their expression of emotions, act or dress provocatively, and act theatrically, even over very minor instances. In many cases, these individuals overemphasize the importance and intimacy of relationships, leading to a feeling that they are too attached or clinging.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder is best characterized by difficulties in regulating emotions, often resulting in mood swings and impassivity. People afflicted with Borderline Personality Disorder may display a fear of abandonment and exhibit impulsive behaviors in response to that fear. These individuals can rapidly cycle between polarized feelings, screaming “I hate you,” followed by a whimpering “Please don’t leave me.” It is not uncommon for these individuals to experience intense, uncontrollable bouts of anger, or depressed mood. This rapid cycling can be problematic if a client is cycling between issues such as suicidal thoughts and intense bouts of anger and depression. Medication is often used to control symptoms including depressed mood, anxiety, and dissociative feelings. Hospitalization may be required in cases of extreme stress, impulsive, or suicidal behaviors.

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Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial Personality Disorder is characterized by a complete disregard for the rights or feelings of others. People diagnosed with this disorder are commonly referred to as “Sociopaths,” due to their lack or regard for others, and lack of guilt or remorse for their behavior. These individuals are hostile and easily agitated, may take unnecessary risks, and often engage in poor or abusive relationships. It is not uncommon for these individuals to have trouble with the law due to homicidal or suicidal behaviors, gang participation and abusive tenancies. Like other disorders in this cluster, there are no medications that specifically treat it.

Because these disorders are pervasive, and in many cases have existed for the majority of a patient’s life, treating these disorders requires careful attention. There are no medications available to treat either Narcissistic, Histrionic, Borderline, or Antisocial Personality Disorder directly. Doctors may work with patients and prescribe medications to control symptoms such as depression or anxiety, while long-term behavioral psychotherapy is considered to be the preferred treatment for patients with one of these personality disorders.

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